Every couple of weeks I open up my refrigerator and find a hodgepodge of stuff; not enough of any one thing to be really useful – half of an onion, a piece of a bell pepper, an ear or two of corn, a lonely zucchini, a couple of mushrooms, you get the idea – but enough that I cringe at the thought of wasting it. Honestly I cringe at the idea of wasting any of it; food is not free so everything I toss in the garbage without using is pretty much like lighting the money I used to buy it on fire. Not smart.
Enter succotash. Not only is it a wicked fun word to say but it sounds better than Refrigerator Hash and is also a really easy dish to throw together out of the random in your fridge. What is it? More or less a chopped up mix of vegetables and some kind of shell bean, traditionally lima, all sauteed or baked together. It originated in New England & Pennsylvania and made its way across the country during the Great Depression as a hearty substitute for the meat that had become so expensive. In some regions it is baked with a pastry crust like a pot pie, in others served as a side dish. The only ‘rule’ seems to be corn & beans, if you can even call that a rule. No matter where it comes from its a delicious way to use up bits & pieces from the fridge quick & easy.
The recipe & procedure are pretty simple, most time consuming part was getting all the vegetables chopped up and ready to go in the pan, it was on & off the stove in about 10 minutes, if not less. The vegetables I used were what I found in my fridge, adjust it for what you find in yours. For the beans I used canned cannelli. I really have no issue at all with canned beans, cooking from dried is an eternity that is not always an option when you’re trying to get dinner on the table before bedtime so I always have a few cans hanging out in my pantry for just these occasions.
The interesting part of this dish is HOW you prepare & cook it. The idea is to get a hash looking vegetable dish, so all the vegetables need to be cut in similar sizes to they match – you don’t want huge florets of cauliflower & little itty bitty kernels of corn, that would look weird & throw off the balance of the dish. See? All about the same size.
The other thing to consider is cook time. Cauliflower takes longer than zucchini which takes longer than corn and so on and so on. You don’t want any of them to be mushy or super crunchy, the goal is all of the vegetables cooked properly so they have to be added to the pan in an order that makes sense to accomplish that. This dish should taste fresh, have some texture and be good to eat warm or cold – all of that is controlled through your cook time.
All the recipe quantities are approximate. I didn’t go too nutso when seasoning this other than some salt, pepper & citrus, but some fresh herbs would also have been lovely had I thought to toss them in…which I didn’t until I was looking at the pics later. I served it warm-ish the night I made it and had it cold the next day for lunch – it was awesome both ways.
Summer Vegetable Succotash
- 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/2 Red Onion, small dice
- 1/2 Bell Pepper, small dice
- 2 cups Finely Chopped Cauliflower Florets (about 1/4 of an avg head)
- 2 cups Medium Dice Zucchini (1 medium-ish)
- 2 1/2 cups Fresh Corn Kernels (about 2 ears)
- 1 cup Medium Diced Tomato (2-3 romas or 1 medium)
- 1 can Cannelli Beans, drained (or any other canned/frozen bean you like)
- 1 Lemon
- 1 Lime
- Salt & Pepper to Season
Get your veg prepped and into bowls ready to get sauteed ~ Small dice the Red Onion & Bell Pepper; Cauliflower- trim off as much stem as you can from florets and rough chop the tops into approximately 1/2″ sized cubes; Zucchini- remove the stem & cut in half across the belly (width-wise), slice each half into 1/2″ thick slices, cut the slices into 1/2″ thick strips then dice into 1/2″ cubes; Corn- use a knife to remove from the cob and make sure you get all the silk out; Tomatoes- dice into 1/2 sized chunks.
Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat & add the olive oil. When it is nice & hot add the onion & peppers and saute quickly until they start to soften, about 2 minutes, then crank your heat to high.
Add the cauliflower pieces and saute for another 2 minutes, tossing about as necessary. When the pan starts to get HOT again the cauliflower should be starting to soften up just a little bit.
Add the zucchini and saute for 2-3 minutes, until the cauliflower & zucchini are starting to get tender. Add the corn & beans and toss together. Season with salt & pepper and cook over high heat for another 2 minutes, long enough to cook the corn & warm the beans a bit.
Turn off the heat & get off the stove. Add the tomato, lemon and lime juice; the tomato goes in now so it doesn’t cook and to help cool things down a bit. Taste & adjust the seasoning with more salt & pepper (a little bit of cumin would be good, too, but another thing I didn’t think of until I was writing the post). Transfer to a serving dish and be amazed that all those little things that looks so lonely in your fridge could be so AMAZING when cooked together!!
Deliciously vegan, loaded with healthy & perfectly cooked vegetables, I love this as a side dish for just about anything off the grill AND it’s a perfect way to utilize any & all of that stuff at the bottom of your crisper drawers!